In a generation that is more and more detached, superficial and in which there is a general lack of direction, how do you even start to look for meaning? How do you stay on this path once you have found it without being alone? What are the reasons that make you persist? How do you combine staying on your path and integrating into society?
These are questions that anyone who has tried to find their own way in life will have eventually encountered.
I have constantly tried to pursue what interests me and to dedicate my time to improving myself and my life. I have, however, often been distracted. We are surrounded by a culture that encourages loss and exploitation of self; we are encouraged to abuse alcohol, to engage in multiple relationships or to treat others as objects in a game with egoistic prizes. We become addicted to spending our time scrolling through pointless social media updates. As women we are encouraged to see ourselves as existent only for men’s use and not for our own goals or desires. A narrow scale of attractiveness out of which we do not exist.
This said, there are many young people trying to find their own way in life outside of the common activities such as drinking, night clubs or empty relationships. There are people like myself who struggle to find strong enough reasons to stay on the good side of life. The temptation to just ‘be normal’ is so high, whereas the pressure to continue our individual lives is almost non-existent.
Our culture also encourages us to ‘enjoy’ life while we are young and single, as we will then not be able to ‘have fun’ when we are older and married. In other words, we are in a rush to ‘live’ and do stupid things before we have to settle down into boredom. This never quite rang true in my heart and only recently I realised the reason. What if we don’t have that long? Who said we will live until we are 80, 90? If we are blessed with this, then that is great. But what if we are not? What if we only have a few years more? Or 10 years, 20 years? Not only do we exit this life without even trying to be a good person, lead a decent life or find meaning, but we exit it with only mistakes and wasted time to show for our presence here. Not even the intention of trying to be real to ourselves or others. Only our taking for granted of the fact that we will have time to be forgiven and to change our behaviour when we are ‘older’. No, just because I am young does not mean I have forever to get myself together. I might not have as much time as I think.
I also find a ground to stand on when I think of what I have to lose. Lets say I do discipline myself. I look for a better life, I try my best to be a better person. I live with hope, with pride. I add meaning to what I do, I improve myself and I keep my heart clean. Then I get to the end of my life and I realise that it didn’t matter. I could have done nothing of this sort and the end would have been the same. What do I lose then? Nothing. I will have lived a better life than I would have if I did not try. I will have been a better person than what I would have been, I will have made accomplishments inside myself and outside in society. Life will have been a lot more meaningful than if I had just vegetated through without purpose. I will have done something good in the world, made use of my time.
What if, on the other hand, I don’t do any of the above and I get to the end of life and realise that it did matter? I don’t even dare imagine what I have to lose. The regret, the pain in realising its too late. Lost hopes, broken dignity and ‘what ifs’. Not only did I not value this life, I did not even try to look for a meaning. Not even tried. That’s worse than trying and messing up.
So from this I ask myself what is stopping me, what is stopping all of us. There is nothing to be afraid of. Nothing to be ashamed of. There is only one life and one chance. I don’t have to be perfect. That is not why I am here. I am here to try. Maybe I will mess up, maybe I will make a lot of mistakes. But if my intentions are pure then nothing else matters. If I know I have done my best and tried my hardest in this life, then that is an accomplishment in itself.
It will be hard not to be distracted, but I believe there is a purpose to this life. Living by this purpose will give much deeper satisfaction than distractions can. The choice is ultimately ours. We can easily waste our lives and all the opportunities that go with it, or we can focus on what is important from now until the rest of the time we are given here. We can live our own unique life with its unique story; the heartbreaks and joys that go with it, or we can live as we are told it is normal to, ignoring any call to our purpose. This is especially true for the current generation; with so much potential, so many resources, so much belief in ourselves and awareness about what is happening in the world, imagine the things we could be doing to better the world itself and our individual lives. We are capable of so much, it would be a pity to not even try.